In this post I will be exploring the definition of a habit, what they are, how they are formed, what triggers them, what they cause & ultimately how to attempt to Ignore / replace or change them if they are negative.
What is a habit? Let’s take a look
“are routines or behaviour that are repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously”
Example; There is this restaurant in South Africa (also a coffee company) and they have the most amazing red velvet cheesecake. I can see it clearly now & can hear it calling out to me🙂. Honestly, there isn’t better than this and I will know because I see myself as a bit of a cheesecake aficionado. 🙂 Hey, I’m not perfect….. I do cheat now and then, as long as it remains the exception & not the rule!
- Some other restaurants sell their brand of coffee and then use their branded sugar sachets. So whenever I hear or see the logo, I immediately think of their red velvet cheesecake only, nothing else!
- It would then trigger a response that, if not managed, will cause me to visit this restaurant within a day or two of the trigger in order to,
- Get my slice of cheesecake & coffee, to feel satisfied / rewarded.
To place this in perspective; the above habit is something that I am OK with as I eat healthily most of the time and perhaps cheat once or twice a week. With my level of training & balanced lifestyle this doesn’t affect my weight or health at all. So, let’s break it down below.
What sequence does the cycle of a habit consist of?
Considering the numbered sequence in the previous paragraph you will find that the sequence of a habit consist of;
- A trigger. Something I see or hear that will make me think of the cheesecake.
- A behavior / action. Coming up with a plan to ensure that I get this cheesecake
- A reward. The feeling of satisfaction / reward after I had the cheesecake
When looking at what Wikipedia defines a habit to be then you will see that I underlined the subconscious aspect, because at some point in time after my first introduction to this amazing cheesecake I told myself subconsciously that this is goooood! I also told myself it not only tastes good but it also makes me feel good! So now it has officially become a habit, and a bad one at that if not managed!
Something triggers the thought, you suddenly need it or have to do it, then comes the reward, AND THEN IT WILL REPEAT BECAUSE IT IS IN YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS!
How do we ignore, replace or change a habit?
I am once again not going to insult your intelligence here as this is not going to be easy! Remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? At first, it required a LOT of concentration and included many fails, so much so that you were totally exhausted at the end of your learning session (and you were not even riding behind a car – exhausted) :-). But later it became second nature & part of your subconscious, anyways….
Understanding that this habit is part of your subconscious as defined by Wikipedia /other & in order to successfully detect and pause directly after the trigger you are going to have to concentrate / be mindful, like when you first started out with your bike. If you don’t then you will go through with the cycle & miss the opportunity to alter the course!
The goal is to be mindful and to intelligently detect the trigger. While you are in the triggered state you have the ability to consciously make a choice for the better.
- To ignore it you basically have to tell yourself & believe that what you are about to do is bad for you and totally goes against your goals that you have set for yourself. By feeling that this is wrong right down to your core you will start to believe it and then refrain. You need to exercise restraint, willpower guys!!
- To replace or change it you need to find a healthier alternative to your current habit. So when the trigger strikes you need to tell yourself & believe that the healthier alternative is going to give you the same reward at the end of the cycle. You need to do this every time you are triggered and later you will automatically start going for the healthier alternative. This takes time and you will fail at first like when you learned to ride bike! Determination guys!!
Remind yourself of your motivation!!
Guys, I battle to remain tactful when things reach this stage so please excuse the following if it comes across a bit harsh but, you owe it to yourself to be honest about this! As human beings we have the ability to be resourceful & to intelligently make decisions that will better our health & quality of life.
If you know what your motivation is and you have a plan with goals defined then you will have the motivation, willpower & determination to succeed! If I can do it, then so can you!
Choose a habit that you know needs ignoring or changing and give it a go! I know you can do it as I have done this many times at will. When I set a goal to reduce my body fat then nothing can convince me to eat cheesecake because I know how the habit cycle works and will trick / ignore it as if it never happened. It will take time but if you remain mindful and consistent then this advice will make a huge difference!
Good luck with tricking your triggers, and be sure to leave some comments!
All the best!